If men lived in peace with God and with each other,
the earth would truly resemble a paradise.

Benedict XVI made a plea for a rejection of the arms race and the attempt to solve problems with war, which he called a “useless bloodbath.”

The Pope urged an end to war today at the midday Angelus address in Piazza Calvi in Lorenzago di Cadore, where he is on vacation.

“From this place of peace here in the north of Italy, where one feels even more vitally how unacceptable the ‘useless bloodbaths’ are, I renew the call to follow with tenacity the way of law, to firmly renounce the arms race, to reject in general the temptation to face new situations with old systems,” he said.

The Holy Father recalled that 90 years ago on Aug. 1, 1917, the Pontifffrom whom he took his name, Benedict XV, published his celebrated “Nota Alle Potenze Belligeranti” (Note to the Warring Powers), asking that an end be put to the First World War.

“As that huge conflict raged, the Pope had the courage to affirm that it was a ‘useless bloodbath,'” Benedict XVI affirmed.

He continued: “This expression of his left a mark on history. It was a justified remark given the concrete situation in that summer of 1917, especially on the front here in this part of northern Italy. But those words, ‘useless bloodbath,’ have a larger, prophetic application to other conflicts that have destroyed countless human lives.”

Constructing peace

The Holy Father added, “Benedict XV’s ‘Nota’ did not limit itself to condemning war; it indicated, at a juridical level, the ways to construct an equitable and durable peace.”

Concretely, he said, the Pontiff of the First World War proposed: “the moral force of law, balanced and regulated disarmament, arbitration in disputes, freedom on the seas, the reciprocal remission of war debts, the restitution of occupied territories, fair negotiations to resolve problems.”

“The Holy See’s proposal was oriented toward the future of Europe and of the world, according to a project that was Christian in inspiration but able to be shared by all because it was founded on the law of nations,” Benedict XVI observed.

He added: “It is the same program that the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II followed in their memorable speeches at the United Nations, repeating in the name of the Church: ‘No more war!’

“If men lived in peace with God and with each other, the earth would truly resemble a ‘paradise.’

“Unfortunately, sin ruined this divine project, generating divisions and bringing death into the world. This is why men cede to the temptations of! the evil one and make war against each other. The result is that in this stupendous ‘garden’ that is the world, there open up circles of hell.”